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Becoming an Effective Chair Programme: March 2024

Step up to Chair with confidence with our 3 session programme, combining leading-edge research and practical experience in the role.

Date and Time
07 Mar 2024
10:00 - 12:00
Not Specified
Director’s Circle
£ 750
Full Member
£ 750
Digital Member
£ 1000
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Registration closed for the event.

Terms & Conditions

Refunds for all our individual events are available if notice is given three business days prior by email or telephone, or one month prior to first session of our programmes. After this, a transfer to another event will be given. Cancellations on the same business day will not generally be eligible for a refund or transfer, however you may substitute someone to come in your place. In the case of exceptional circumstances let us know and we will consider a refund/transfer.

Non-executives need to work highly independently and rely on their own judgement – this is even more true for Chairs. By developing your understanding of the complexities of the role, both practical and interpersonal, you can gain assurance that your approach is truly effective. 

Our ‘Becoming an effective Chair’ programme supports you to do just this, with a small group of your peers. Aimed at both current and aspiring Chairs, the three session programme combines leading board effectiveness research with practical experience. Both facilitators are experienced Chairs and two guest speakers, with long-time experience of chairing complex boards, will join the final session to share their insights.

This programme will equip you to step up to Chair, whether your first role or to a more complex board, and to enhance your effectiveness in the role – as well as expanding your network of experienced NEDs.

Led by two experienced Chairs, you and a small cohort of your peers (12 participants max.) will consider lessons from current research on the Chair’s role in board effectiveness and discuss their practical application, contextualised with personal experiences. The programme will examine the Chair’s role in ensuring the board fulfils its responsibilities and overseeing board processes as well as the personal style and qualities that help make an effective Chair.

By the end of the programme you will have enhanced your network with connections to a diverse peer group of non-executive directors and Chairs. See below for further details including dates of all three sessions.

Who should attend this workshop?

“With such a shortage of female Chairs, this initiative is much welcomed and brings excellent practical experience/ advice to help more women be prepared and motivated to aim for Chair roles.”
Jacqui FergusonPortfolio Non Exec Director, Chair & Advisor, Sunday Times Dame Helen Alexander NED to Watch Winner 2018

“A unique offer for entry-level Chairs to consider their approach to the role – the insights from such highly experienced speakers will be of tremendous value.”
Monica Chadha, portfolio NED & Chair, Cranfield Woman to Watch list 2019

The programme is limited to 12 participants and is suited to:

  • Non-executives who are considering taking on a Chair position in the future and want to build a deeper understanding of the role;
  • Chairs targeting more complex Chair positions, perhaps in a different sector or of a full board;
  • Chairs seeking to develop their skills and effectiveness and understand the latest thinking around effective governance;

Given the highly interactive nature of the programme, we anticipate that participants will learn as much from each other as they do from the main speakers, as well as extending their network of peers. 

All participants must have sufficient board experience to realistically consider a Chair position now or in future or currently be in a board or committee Chair role. The programme is relevant to all types of boards and sectors. 

Do get in touch if you are unsure of your suitability for this programme: contact@wbdirectors.co.uk / 020 3925 4080

Programme schedule:

Session 1 – Thursday 7th March 2024, 10am-12pm

Session 1 is focused on the WHAT of being an effective Chair and will cover:

  • the role of the Chair in the context of the role of the board;
  • the board processes that the Chair oversees and which support the board’s effectiveness: preparing for and managing board meetings; facilitating non-exec involvement outside board meetings; and the board maintenance cycle (recruitment, reviews, etc)
  • How the role of the Chair compares across different sectors

Session 2 – Friday 8th March 2024, 10am-12pm

Session 2 is focused on the HOW of being an effective Chair and will cover:

  • three core challenges to board effectiveness that a Chair needs to understand and manage: the information asymmetry between the board and management; making best use of limited board time; the complex interpersonal dynamics of the boardroom
  • the personal style and qualities that help make an effective Chair
  • managing stakeholders and the role of the Chair in a crisis

Session 3 – Thursday 14th March 2024, 10am-12pm

Session 3 will be focused around the experience of two guest speakers with broad, cross-sector board and Chair experience.  As well as hearing from the guest speakers and interacting in a Q&A, participants will spend 15 to 20 minutes in a breakout room with each Chair.

Our guest Chairs for this programme are:

Clifton Melvin has over 40 years’ experience of insurance and retail financial services.  He chairs EcoHydra Technologies, an innovative hand hygiene business, and the Audit Committee at Saga Personal Finance. He was until recently Chair of Employee Benefits insurer Unum. He was the Senior Independent Director of Just Group from 2004 until 2013 and also spent 4 years as chair of a governance board at Standard Life.

Clifton, a fluent Spanish speaker, has held senior management positions with Axa, KPMG, GE Capital and Credit Suisse, where he was the Chief Executive of Winterthur Life UK from 2001 to 2003.

Margaret Rice-Jones is an experienced Chair, SID and NED with over 20 years of board experience. She currently sits on the board of AIM listed Calnex Solutions and privately held ScaleUp Institute, Holiday Extras and Origami Energy.  Her Chair experience is extensive and includes; NewBay Software, Qumas, Skyscanner and Openet as well as Chairing Admirals Leading Comparison Platform which included Confused.com. Outside of commercial work Margaret also Chairs a charity looking after victims of domestic abuse in Berkshire where she lives.

Before becoming a portfolio NED Margaret amongst many other things, was Private Equity backed CEO Aircom International. She also has extensive corporate experience including working with Motorola Inc.

Programme Leads:


Rowena Ironside

Rowena spent 25 years as an executive in the ICT sector, starting out writing software in Australia; building an IT services business in London; and running international services businesses in the software and hosting industries. Rowena has been a non-executive member of boards in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors since 2006, including 5 years as the inaugural Chair of the charity Compassion in Dying. She was executive Chair of Women on Boards UK from its launch in 2012 until October 2020 and is currently Chair of the healthcare charity PSPA and an independent committee Chair for THIS Institute. Rowena attended INSEAD’s Leading from the Chair programme in 2019.

Alison Thorne

Alison Thorne is a Chair and Non Executive Director. Currently she is Chair of the National Dance Company Wales and Chair of Barcud Housing Association plus Senior Independent Non Executive director for the Welsh Rugby Union and a Governor for Cardiff Metropolitan University. Alison builds on her equality work as the Wales Lead for Women on Boards and as an Independent Panel Member for Public Appointments for the Welsh Government.

Previously a board member for Sport Wales where she Chaired the Facilities Review, a trustee and then Chair at Chwarae Teg (Wales leading equality charity), Non-Executive Director for Thought Provoking Consulting, and a trustee at Tropical Forest Trust (sustainable forest management).

She has had a corporate global career in retail, holding executive board roles at Mothercare, George at Asda and Otto UK with executive leadership roles at Kingfisher and Storehouse specialising in Operations, Buying, Merchandising and Sourcing.

Her career then developed into Executive search as a partner in a boutique search firm, prior to setting up ‘atconnect’ a business that supports companies to delivers successful teams through executive search and mentoring working in Media, Retail, Housing and Health Care sectors.